What is a possible approach to analysing unseen texts?

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In your exams and your essays in general, when asked to analyse unseen texts, your goal is to show a sophisticated reading and response. This can be quite difficult if you're not sure what to look for, if a text isn't particularly inspiring, or if you're simply under time pressure! A possible approach which I often find useful is STRIVE:
Look out for Structure, Tone, Reader resposne, Imagery, Vocabulary and Extras.
Identifying how a text is constructed (stanzas, sentence length, punctuation, etc.), what tone and atmosphere the author is looking to create, what is the reader's reaction, what imagery is being used as well as specific word choices and vocabulary to convery a message to the reader.
Of course, not every text will fall under all these categories, and they do not necessarily cover everything in a text - which is why you need to be open and attentive to all techniques the author is using or effects that they want to create: you need to look out for any Extras!
While the bigger part of the actual work is the actual analysis of the text and exploring the different meanings and effects you can get out of it, these categories can help guide your work.

Leila H. Uni Admissions Test .TSA. Oxford. tutor, A Level English Lit...

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